Sunday, June 10, 2007

In Which I Indulge in Some E-Scapism

A friend recently gave me a large bag of garlic scapes, something that I had heard of (In a magazine? A cookbook? On TV?), but had never actually seen. According to the Gardener's Dictionary, a scape is "leafless peduncle or stem arising from the ground and bearing flowers." The photo to the right shows the scape of an Agapanthus africanus (also known as the Lily of the Nile and, by me at least, the "office park/shopping mall flower") rising directly out of the bulb.

I don't recall ever seeing scapes at the East Bay Farmers Markets, but in the last few days I have seen two web mentions: a photo at Eggbeater (the 2nd photo down) and in the Washington Post food section.

Most garlic farmers remove the scapes, which curl as they grow (see photo below), to let the plant put its energy into making a bulb.

Cooking with Scapes
The flavor of the scapes is mild, and so you can use them in far larger quantities than garlic cloves. In addition, the size of the scapes makes it is possible to create more complex flavors and bring out the sweetness through roasting or sauteeing, something not so easy with a more pungent garlic clove. I used my scapes in quite a few ways:

I sliced them into 2 cm lengths and cooked them in a stir fry with various vegetables. I put thinly sliced pieces into miso soup (unfortunately, the flavor did not come through). I cooked them with sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms, but not long enough (however, they were properly tender the next day when I microwaved the leftovers as part of my lunch).

I put lightly sauteed scapes on a pizza along with roasted sliced potatoes, Gruyere cheese and sauteed red onion (believe it or not, pre-cooked thinly sliced potatoes can be wonderful on pizza). The photo below shows the pizza before and after baking. The timing or baking position was somewhat off, and so the top of the pizza was overcooked. (I follow the baking guidelines in The Cheese Board Collective Works, but haven't fully optimized them for my oven.)

Finally, I pickled two small jars of scapes using the recipe for pickled green beans in Stocking Up. I'm relatively new to long-term pickling (i.e., pickling which requires boiling the closed jars), and am letting the pickled scapes rest for a while before sampling.

More information and recipes about garlic scapes can be found at the Moscow, Idaho food co-op and Maraquita Farms.

To end this post, I have two questions:

1) Is blogging about garlic scapes a form of e-scapism? (the hyphen in the last word of the post title was not a typo)

2) If Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, Charles Bronson or Donald Pleasence ran a restaurant, would it be called the "Great Scape"? A strange question, until you remember that all of these actors were in the 1963 film "The Great Escape".

Random link from the archive: Legislating Local Foods (at Eat Local Challenge)

Technorati tags: Baking : vegetarian : Food


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Ah,L garlic scapes! In and out of the farmers' markets in a blink of an eye. (And I opted to sleep late this week, and skip the market -- dag nabbit!)

All I ever do is chop 'em in bite size pieces, blanch them and then saute in olive oil.

Yum Yum.

Sarojni Mehta-Lissak said...


What a thrill to find your blog. I just put on a pot of urad dal to simmer away and thought I'd do some internet research on these black beauties to pass the time. Lo and behold I came across your posting on Boat Chaat. Very nice. As a fellow foodie I'll definitely be checking in again!

Jack said...

No, it would be the "Great 'Scape".

The "office park/shopping mall flower" was one of the most heavily planted flower in our back yard when we bought our house. It was a LOT of work removing them...established ones have thick roots that go deep. They're everywhere here, too, and used as you describe.